Solo An Etude a Day

...keeps one's overbearing Kelvic sister at bay?

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

An Etude a Day

Postby Caspian on February 3rd, 2019, 2:12 am

27 Winter 518 AV

When Caspian holds his violin for the first time in weeks, the first time in earnest in years, there is no magical moment.

There is no golden light that rains down on him from above, no whistles and stomps, no trumpeting or polyphonic ooh-ing and aaah-ing to herald its reunion with its well-worn position in the crook beneath his chin. Not even, as likely as it would have been, an entirely unrelated whooping from one of the patrons at the Silver Sliver Tavern just down below.

There’s no shoulder rest, not a real one, at least. For years he had a plush one, part of the sum of this gift from Gavir, its burgundy fabric already patched and faded by the time it entered his possession. It was made for someone broader – which, truth be told, is most people compared to Caspian – but over the years in Sunberth, from his thousands of hours of practice in the corner of his highest-floor room, it had eventually conformed to sit comfortably across his left clavicle. The familiarity it expressed towards him, though inanimate, is not something he had taken for granted, but still by some measures underappreciated by him in those moments.

It’s not immediately apparent to him where it might have gone. He’s had people over, certainly, and the liquor and rest of the party trappings that came with them, and it’s possible that it was lost in the usual Ravokian drunken shuffle.

For now, though, a many layered, many folded swath of emerald velvet will do.

The first thing is tuning; it is always tuning. The bow feels a bit awkward in his grip, his right hand no longer so accustomed to that particular contortion, and the more he dwells on it the more unpleasant it seems, this sensation that he’s just a feather’s touch away from dropping it. Starting with the second string from the highest, though, he strokes with the bow – and the pitch comes flat, though thankfully not gut-wrenchingly. He lowers it from his shoulder, presses the base against his abdomen to steady it, and tightens the corresponding peg. Raises it to his shoulder again – and dips suddenly, awkwardly, because that makeshift rest is threatening to slip from its perch on his shoulder, no longer so much a trusted assistant as a flimsy, deflated parrot.

It’s alright, though, hasn’t slipped from him entirely yet, and when he tests the same string it’s –

Now a little sharp.

Standard sort of thing, for tuning, a game of over- and under-estimation.

The violin leaves his shoulder, and he twists the peg towards him now to loosen the string by the most minute of degrees. This time, when he tests its pitch, it’s quite dead on with the one permanently ingrained in his memories. The little pluck for good measure confirms it.

Next, then, the string right below it, and after that he’ll tune the very lowest, then the pearl-like highest. Come to think of it, he’s always done them in this order. He’s not sure it means anything, or would make some difference if he started low to high, or high to low, but it’s the way his father had done it, and same for Gavir. From this distance from both parental figures, both miles and years, all he’s got is habit to bind them. If he were to rosin his bow now, he’d do it much the same way they’d shown him too, with seven long, quick strokes from the frog of the bow to the tip and back. And a little more by the frog of it, the heaviest portion of its length just beyond his grip, because he’s always liked adding more friction there, to give it that extra bite.

That second string he tunes, the second-lowest (or third-highest, however way you’d like to see it), takes several more twists and turns before it settles in the pitch it ought to.

Which is alright. A manageable experience. Accomplished what it should in the end.

It’s only a small sigh that escapes him when he’s moved on to the lowest string, and the pitch rips itself so flatly, but then with a surprising rattle, one that sends a little trill of fear ringing through his heart. Has something broken?

Lowering the instrument hastily from his neck, he peers closer, at the bridge, over which the strings are elevated and should be held razor-taut. The culprit is there – well, the culprit’s marks are there, because that buzzing string’s ever so slightly visibly slack, and when he casts his eyes upwards to the scroll, he notices that the entire string’s gone and unraveled. The reduced tension has caused the end of the string in the lower bout to jam at an odd angle against the fine tuners.

It would be much worse if he were unable to diagnose the cause of the disruptive buzzing. That’s what he tells himself, attempting to focus on the positives despite his clenched jaw and gritted teeth, as he loops the string out from its own tangle and does his best to tighten the peg.

It’s been some very long minutes now since he first began. His thumbs are burning from bending backwards against the resistance of the pegs, and –

He sighs.

After all that, there’s still the matter of the very highest.
Last edited by Caspian on February 17th, 2019, 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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An Etude A Day

Postby Caspian on February 3rd, 2019, 9:31 pm

It’s a matter of delicacy.

Caspian knows this; all seasoned musicians, string players and otherwise, know this; even children fumbling with the instrument for the first time under the severe gaze of their teacher can sense the particularly tremulous quality of the E string, the violin’s very highest.

It is irreconcilably the diameter of floss, unforgivably sensitive to the most glancing of touches. Its being the means of accessing the instrument’s highest possible registers makes it a matter deserving of special attention - while a safe bet to acquire all four strings from the same luthier, to ensure they’ll all respond with the same type of timber, string players make the E string the exception. The ones who know what they’re doing, at least. There’s a lot to consider - timber, again, because in the higher registers it’s all too easy for the frequencies to turn shrill and unpleasant. Then there’s endurance. It’s established practice to line the gut cores of the strings with plated gold. Overwhelmingly expensive to get your whole set of four done this way, but even those with less resources will go out of there way to get ahold of a gold-plated E.

It’s the one that sings, that cuts, that takes vibrato from twitter to warble and back to the start. All that, again, if you know what you’re doing.

Caspian’s never owned a gold-plated E. Neither has his father, at least as far as he remembers. Gavir did, though, had a full flush and a half of them. Caspian had only seen them all strung up on his violin just the once - in a place like Sunberth, walking around with that much overt flash is just asking for trouble.

But that day, with the whole array of them singing at once beneath Gavir’s years of expertise -

The memory of them rippling and chorusing in tandem makes him sigh, even now.

(Though he wouldn’t dare try to detract from Gavir’s abilities as a musician, looking back, he’s sure the circumstances added to their stunning, the stark contrast between the beauty of their sound, and the despondent lack thereof in their surroundings. Sunberth had a way of graying. /Has/ a way. He’s willing to put money on it being no different today, if not worse.)

This particular E string isn’t much to look at, your usual gut core wrapped in steel. Not a bad one, though, by any means. It doesn’t whistle when he skims the bow across it, even when he deviates from the perpendicular hold recommended for a full, steady tone. He can draw the bow away from its generally prescribed middle position, either closer to the bridge or away towards the fingerboard, without producing an unwanted whine or scratch.

Tuning that string, in the end, turns out -

Fine.

Not pretty, a little more arduous than he remembers it being, but fine.

With his mouth held in a tight frown, Caspian’s only relieved that none of his neighbors have barged in to demand he give up his endeavors.

That done, all together now-

He sweeps the bow across all four strings, lowest to highest and then back, keeping the fingerboard devoid of any pressure, letting them ring as long as they please. Despite his isolation, its his own little symphony, his alone, warm and in his grasp.

Now, checking the weights of each string, playing them solo -

And the D has decided to go flat.

Upon further examination, so has the G.

It’s more than a little frustrating, especially since he’s been at it for the better part of a quarter of an hour. Not surprising that the two lowest strings have decided to loosen even under his watchful eye, though. Being the heaviest of the four, and his having not played and subsequently having not tuned the instrument very often just means the pegs are slipping from their slots in the scroll.

A little charcoal for resistance, a little patience for - at this point, his self-esteem and emotional well-being - and everything will be as it should be.

Silently, stifling his own irritation, he rummages under his bed for the little cloth-wrapped, grosgrain ribbon-tied block of charcoal he’s kept expressly for this purpose, and thankfully hasn’t chosen to burn.
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An Etude A Day

Postby Caspian on February 4th, 2019, 4:33 am

Long tones are always the place to begin.

Even without the gap in his practice, he’d start with long, even tones, one string at a time. The measures here are in four, and in four one has to picture the bow divided quarterly. It’s easiest to center ones visualization of the fractioning by identifying the very middle point. Following the initial bisecting of the bow is then the bisecting of both subsequent parts, and then with that you’ve divided it from one whole, to two, to four.

During these long tones - beginning again with the A string, that second highest string he’d tuned first - as you move in four-measure beats, the idea is to approximate to the best of your ability reaching each fourth with each downbeat. Four by four - as straightforward as it comes. Not the easiest thing, though, especially when one hasn’t - as Caspian’s immediately discovering - done this in a while. He reaches the first beat and the first fourth too soon, and to overcompensate slows his motion. Subsequently he doesn’t hit the very middle, beat two, at all when he ought to - and then follows the overcompensation of quickening, the consequence of meeting beat three too soon and overshooting the third quarter, and the final result is his running clear over the tip of his bow in his haste, and losing the tone entirely to the open air.
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Caspian
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An Etude A Day

Postby Madeira Dusk on February 4th, 2019, 11:23 pm

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Caspian

Skills
  • Play Musical Instrument- Violin: 3xp
  • Observation: 3xp

Lores
  • Lore of a proper substitute for violin shoulder rest
  • Play Musical Instrument: how to properly tune a violin
  • Play Musical Instrument: proper way to hold a bow
  • Play Musical Instrument: diagnosing a worrying sound
  • Play Musical Instrument: how to handle the finicky E string
  • Lore of reverence to the gold-plated E string
  • Lore of doctoring loose pegs with charcoal

Awards & Retribution


Notes
I regret I couldn't give you more skills. There was so much detailed, technical work in here that deserved lots of XP, but it was all under the broad category of Play Musical Instrument. :'( If you think I missed something let me know!

Overall, wonderful thread. As someone who's never touched an instrument in their life this was fascinating. <3
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